Futuristic, Nostalgic, Beautiful.
Unity and cohesion filled the air at the latest Life Is Beautiful.
It’s Friday morning of Life Is Beautiful weekend in downtown, Las Vegas. I’m the first customer in the chair at Hi-Rollers Barbershop and my barber Chris is telling me all about Die Antwoord and the rest of the acts he’s excited to see at the festival. The city is buzzing from all of the talent in the neighborhood. I downloaded the Life Is Beautiful app, chose a few acts I definitely wanted to see and then planned to be fluid with friends in between.
Kaytranada was the first “must see” on my list. The neon red vibes and thick beats at the Troubadour Stage had the whole block dancing. I was curious about all the smiling faces I saw. I traveled to the front, middle and back of the crowd. Everyone was dancing. The crowd was young and stylish and the timing of Kaytranada’s set was spot on. The evening and weekend started proper with his highly danceable style.
If I’ve learned anything at all after attending each LIB to date, you have to devour some of the amazing food they offer to keep you going. The undeniable, miso-glazed sea bass skewers from Sushisamba were a very short walk away. I savored each and every bite and went over to catch Kehlani. She closed with her red hot single “CRZY” and really impressed me with the way she could hold down some strong live vocals while also executing sexy choreography.
Zhu’s performance was elevated to optimal levels by featuring a live tenor saxophone player and live guitarist. They wore long black trench coats and would turn their backs to the crowd when they weren’t playing, as the lights would dim above them. The deep tracks, live vocals and live instrumentation kept giving me the same great feeling. This is exactly the vibe we should experience in nightclubs. Everyone was dancing, and hearing that sax echo back through the Troubadour tunnel instantaneously provided a drop of euphoria for the entire audience.
TheKindLand.com is one of my go-tos when I want to read about cannabis culture and lifestyle so it was great to have their presence at LIB this year. On one-hour’s sleep after watching the sun rise with beautiful friends, I had to head over to Makers & Finders to meet the High There crew for a quick interview. It’s truly awesome to witness the cannabis movement charging forward in our city and being recognized at LIB.
Saturday also included a feel-good, throwback-era, old-school-cool, live-music experience with Mr. Leon Bridges. I’ve listened to his album many times since its release, but this young, soulful voice was even better live. It was the perfect time in the weekend for all the young lovers to hold hands and sway in the warm night air. Bridges is a friendly dose of nostalgia. Cheers to those who managed to find a seat on the Ferris wheel during his performance.
I had seen some impressive rising talent and some established artists in the first two days and by Sunday I was in search of the act that would genuinely surprise me. As I ate a hardy cheeseburger from BBD’s with my 6-year-old nephew, I found myself rocking out continuously to Third Eye Blind. Their set was executed like highly seasoned veterans who still play their asses off and take lots of pride in their craft. Plus, with local guitarist Alex LeCavalier on stage, you’d have to assume they’d want to rock out for the home crowd, right?
The dancing commenced during the Chromeo performance. My friend handed me a “Front of House” bracelet that put me right next to the soundboard. The funky duo did not disappoint. Their level of funk transcends multiple age demographics and the fun in the music really shines through when they perform. They had everyone funked out at Brooklyn Bowl once before and they turned that dial way up for the LIB show.
The biggest musical moment for me this year was during the Flume set. He dropped two futuristic, musical bombs in the middle of his set that made the crowd roar as they felt the deep bass of the 808s. The ground shook and the vibes kept everyone upright and dancing nonstop. Meanwhile, on the massive LED screens behind him, the stellar graphics of a futuristic fighter pilot and his jet lit up in neon blues that made you feel as if you were in flight. The crowd was filled with young faces, everyone moving to the rhythm, gazing at the lights, unified and flooded with dopamine.
Throughout the weekend I wanted to try and experience LIB from a few different perspectives. I watched shows with downtown friends, first-time LIB guests and by myself for the sake of balance. All three days had a familiar, unmistakable vibe. There was a feeling of unity and cohesion in the air that led to unforgettable moments for many. Cheers to music that unites us and to all the people and businesses in the neighborhood that fuel the vibe throughout the year.
Life is beautiful!
Rico DeLargo plays trumpet live alongside top-tier DJ talent at the most sought-after events and nightlife destinations in the country. He has a master’s in Music Business and Entertainment Industries from the University of Miami and does freelance creative work with lifestyle brands.